The Long Island Nets won their second straight game Wednesday, this time downing the Agua Caliente Clippers, 101-94. Their record has now improved to 4-5, with six games to play in the shortened season. They’re only a game removed from the eighth seed and a ticket to the playoffs.
Wednesday was an all-around performance from the Nets roster. Jeremiah Martin had his fourth straight 20-point game. He also had three assists and three steals to along with 22 points. The 6’2”point guard leads the G League in steals per game with 2.9 per contest, but continued his 3-point shooting woes, going 1-of-5. Martin is now shooting 15.4 percent from deep while averaging 19 points per game.
Here are his highlights from tonight...
Nets two-way center Reggie Perry had 16 points of his own, as well as five rebounds. He led the Nets in plus-minus as well, with the team outsourcing the opponent by 17 points during his minutes. Perry once again shot well, going 6-of-8 overall and 2-of-4 from deep. Perry is shooting 56.8 percent overall and 42.1 percent from deep. He’s averaging 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds.
The game’s standout performer, however, was undoubtedly Nate Sestina. Sestina, a 6’9” stretch 4, joined the Nets in training camp and was sent Long Island in the G League after being cut by the big club. He had 17 points in 17 minutes, shooting 5-for-12 from three. Sestina, who played last year under John Calipari at Kentucky last season, commented on his performance post-game:
“[My teammates] believe in me. They have the ultimate confidence in me, and my ability to shoot the ball, and having teammates like that really helps my confidence out a lot,” said Sestine. “The past couple games they had been telling me to shoot it, shoot it, shoot it, and I hadn’t been.”
After trailing for the majority of the first half, the Nets were able to get within one possession late in the second quarter, ultimately only trailing by two at halftime. In the third quarter, Long Island came storming out of the gates with a 13-0 run, quickly pushing the lead to double digits. Head Coach Bret Brielmaier talked about his team’s energy to start the second half:
“A couple of small adjustments, but at the end of the day, it was the guys really just turning up their intensity and their physicality. We continue to challenge them to play with that type of force, and you see the outcome when we do. Again, really proud of the guys for the way they defended tonight.”
Brielmaier trusted the bench unit deep into the fourth quarter, and they held a solid lead - around seven points before the starters checked backed in as the Clippers made a late run. A pair of free throws from Martin with 1:36 left in the game put the Nets ahead 101-90 and sealed the Nets’ second straight victory by an ultimate final score of 101-94.
“Our bench is such a life-line for us, they bring such energy, whether it’s C.J. Massinburg getting a rebound or loose ball, Jordan Bowden’s defensive intensity, you saw Nate [Sestina] shoot the basketball today, and then Elie [Okobo]’s ability to distribute and run the team, and Tariq [Owens], who’s normally with that group as well. They just play with incredible energy and spirit, and it’s a pleasure to have a group that plays that hard and that together.”
As for the Clippers, point guard Jordan Ford was electric in the first quarter, but had cooled down for the rest of the night. He finished with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Former Los Angeles Clipper Tyrone Wallace added 20 points.
The Long Island Nets will play next against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The game will tip off at 3:30pm. ET and be broadcast on ESPN+.
Meanwhile, elsewhere at Walt Disney World, the Iowa Wolves were bidding farewell to their top player, Tyler Cook, who’s headed to Brooklyn on a 10-day.
Tyler Cook, who signed a 10-day with the Nets, getting some love from his Iowa Wolves teammates in the bubble. pic.twitter.com/z4O74ajb8s— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) February 25, 2021
Cook is expected to be available Thursday night in Brooklyn when the Nets play the Magic.